Effective succession planning is emotionally complicated and deeply personal. The decision by a financial advisor to consciously evaluate how to retire or transition is perhaps the most difficult one they will encounter.
Exit strategies and succession planning are predicated on a series of proactive decisions. A comprehensive exit plan encompasses issues beyond the obvious monetary ones, including control —ensuring that an entity or financial asset remains with a family—providing care for valued employees, and establishing a legacy. Financial planners often follow the trend of many small businesses in the United States: they ultimately hand over the reins of their practices to a successor too late, failing to protect their legacy or realize their intended vision of succession.
image credit: Russell Reynolds Associates
Elite Advisor Consulting is passionate about solving our industry’s succession planning quandary. As part of this commitment, we partnered with Blue Ocean Global Wealth to deliver “The Case For Succession Planning” CFP Board CE program and publish The Case for Succession Planning white paper. Our Blue Ocean Strategy is education.
Financial advisors are rarely provided with the necessary training and practical support to implement a successful transition. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) and Financial Planning Association (FPA) are two organizations that offer continuing education and networking opportunities for financial advisors. These venues can support an advisor with the requisite guidance to initiate their succession plan.
The average age of an advisor now exceeds 50. Several trillion dollars of hard-earned investment and retirement capital is at risk of not transitioning from retiring advisors to their successors. Perhaps more significantly, most advisors do not have a succession or contingency plan, nor are aging wealth managers formulating a solution as retirement age comes into focus. Additionally, the war for talent, which describes the established industry practice of aggressively recruiting the competition’s seasoned advisors, has resulted in a substantial shortage of young advisors, further compounded by the fact that the profession is expected to expand by 32% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
image credit: Russell Reynolds Associates
A number of obstacles can prevent a financial advisor from planning for their ultimate succession:
Practices are constantly evolving and advisors must recognize that their successor’s doorway into the business differ vastly from their own. It’s a common practice in larger brokerage firms to reassign client accounts immediately after an advisor resigns. The reassignment process can be extremely competitive and legacy advisors often dread the ensuing free-for-all. For this reason, many advisors choose to close up shop in order to avoid internal discord and never monetize their equity in the practice.
Before a succession plan can be implemented, certain steps must be taken to ensure that the buyer recognizes the needs and objectives of the seller. Above all, the seller must perform the proper due diligence. It’s critical for the seller to understand the core values of a potential suitor and how they compare and contrast with their own. Each advisory firm is unique in their business philosophy. Furthermore, the seller should understand the investment process, capacity, and fee structure of the partner firm. With more knowledge at their disposal, there’s less of a risk of seller’s remorse.
Not every transition will be the ideal win-win situation (some may come with an unwanted earn out provision). For this reason an advisor should consider partnering with a consulting firm in order to facilitate the transition process.
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The mission of Elite Advisor Consulting is to provide prudent transition, contingency, and succession planning advice. We are held to the highest fiduciary standard. We help our advisory clients manage risk and protect their families.
To learn more about partnering with Elite Advisor Consulting for Succession Planning speaking engagements, education programs, and workshops, please contact:
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